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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 September, 2004, 13:50 GMT 14:50 UK
10 things about David
Sometimes it's hard to be the epitome of masculinity. First you have to stand in the rain for 400 years and then there's the criticism - bad posture, no clothes. How much should a five-metre marble man be forced to take? Here are some high and low points for the hottest older man in the world.

1. Not everyone has been as accepting of David's nudity as the millions who flock to see him in Florence. A 5ft replica of the statue outside a shop in Florida was covered up with a strategically placed towel following complaints that it was obscene. "I didn't even know it was art," said one woman. "To me, it's just a naked man standing on the side of the road."

2. David has taken flack for resting on one hip, but that is a feature of the contrapposto style, in which the body is twisted slightly. It's a good thing, according to art experts, in that it takes knowledge of anatomy to do it right.

3. Last year, there was a row over how to clean David. Conservationists fought it out over whether he should be rubbed with brushes and soft cloth, or a slightly, err, wetter method. Art conservationists from around the world said an international commission should be held before any work. In the end, distilled water was used.

4. It's often said that David is anatomically perfect, but the truth is David has a weight problem. Carved from a five metre tall, six tonne block of marble, David could do with putting his feet up. His bulk has left him with "fragile ankles". Florence's superintendent of city museums, Antonio Paolucci, says: "When Michelangelo worked his marble he lightened the lower part a bit too much."

5. The second toe of David's left foot was smashed with a hammer in 1991 by an Italian painter. The man was restrained before he got to the icon's weak ankles. David also lost the lower half of his left arm in a 1527 riot.

6. A full-size plaster copy of the statue is in residence at London's Victoria and Albert Museum. The copy that graces the Appian Way Shops, at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas is touted as a must-see, as is the man in Los Angeles, California, who made 23 different sized models to decorate his home and grounds.

7. David proved his true celebrity when he appeared on The Simpsons as himself. Long-suffering mom Marge stands up for art when she says the statue should be displayed at the Springfield Museum despite his lack of clothing.

8. Michelangelo's work was not immediately appreciated by 16th Century Florentines. On its way to be installed outside the city's seat of government in 1504 it was pelted with stones. Some say the act was nothing but thuggery, others that it was politically motivated and inspired by the anger of supporters of the exiled Medici family.

9. Former Tyco CEO Dennis Kozlowski threw a birthday party for his wife, Denise, that featured an ice-sculpture of David which urinated Russian vodka into crystal glasses for the 60 guests. In all, the party cost more than $2m (US).

10. And finally, in Shelton, Connecticut, a school bus stop was moved after a parent complained his daughter could see a copy of David - but only from the waist down. "A lot of people think I'm ridiculous, but you've got to remember how tall a school bus is," said the man. "The view you actually get from the bus window is from the navel down."

David celebrates 500th birthday
08 Sep 04  |  Entertainment


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